NASA / JPL-CALTECH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / JPL-CALTECH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Comet breaking up around a white dwarf, computer artwork. This scenario is based on infrared measurements of the environment around the white dwarf star G29-38. The Spitzer Space Telescope discovered a disc of gas and dust around the star that contains material similar to that found in comets. A white dwarf is an evolutionary endpoint for a Sun-like star. After expanding, and engulfing any inner planets, it casts off its outer layers to expose the hot, dense core, which then cools over billions of years. Outer planets and cometary haloes may survive this, and any comets venturing near the dwarf would be torn apart by tidal forces, creating a disc like this.
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